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Nova Scotia’s Jacob Shaffelburg earns nickname ‘Maritime Messi’

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Soccer fans in Nova Scotia will be watching closely Thursday night when Canada takes on reigning World Cup and COPA America champion Argentina in the opening game of the COPA tournament.

At just 24, Port Williams, N.S., native Jacob Shaffelburg continues to take his soccer career to new heights.

The star forward with Nashville of the MLS is now proudly wearing the Maple Leaf on his chest and will take to the field when Canada plays Argentina and arguably the world's top player Lionel Messi.

A New York Times article published Wednesday called Shaffelburg "The Messi of the Maritimes," a nickname he's earned for his fast pace of the field and the booming accuracy with his left foot.

Former Team Canada national head coach and Nova Scotian Stephen Hart says Shaffelburg's speed and his knack for scoring big goals with Nashville helped elevate him to the national roster.

"You can't coach enthusiasm and desire and he has a lot of that," said Hart. "But on top of that he's left-footed and he can penetrate because of his pace, he's very quick and he has a very good left-footed shot."

There's likely no soccer fan in Nova Scotia who doesn't know Shaffelburg; he's only the second player from the province to represent Canada on the national team.

Mike Locke coached Shaffelburg and the 2017 Canada Games team that represented Nova Scotia.

Shaffelburg always stood out, said Locke. He always had blistering speed that could leave defenders in the dust.

"He has pro-level speed and we always kind of thought that," said Locke.

Mike Locke and his son Ryan will be watching closely as Jacob Shaffelburg and Team Canada take on Argentina in the opening match of the COPA America tournament. (Source: Jesse Thomas/CTV News Atlantic)

This opening game of the COPA America tournament against Argentina is likely the biggest game of Shaffelburg's career and the Canada men's soccer team.

"Going into COPA America and playing Argentina is us announcing ourselves on the world stage, and is the same for Jacob announcing himself on the national team," said Locke. 

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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